Napoleon , Emperor of India
18 Feb 2007
A small tweak in history would have resulted in a totally different world , where India and possibly China were Napoleonic and the world Wars never happened .
(See Appendix A below for criteria .)
It is may 15th , 1768 at Versailles .
Corsica , nominally a Genoese territory , but de facto independent under General Paoli , is signed over to France for settlement of various debts .
The French , smarting under the losses to England incurred in North America , India and especially Quiberon Bay in 1759 , is determined to have a stepping stone in the Mediterranean . They send a large force under Comte de Vaux .
Opposing them is Paoli and a ragtag of guerilla fighters . Among them is Carlo Buonaparte and his 19 year-old wife , Letizia (nee Ramolino ) , both minor nobility of Italian descent .
Carlo Buonaparte is a charming , spendthrift , intelligent man of large enthusiasms , but little application . Letizia has a will of steel and iron teeth for everybody except her husband .
The main French force crush the resistance in 1769 . Letizia , 6 months pregnant with Napoleon , has joined her husband from the beginning .
The French achieve a political settlement with Paoli , whereby he would go into voluntary exile to England , together with his intransigent lieutenants . ( He had good contacts via the author Boswell )
Large pensions are promised . It is cheaper to pay troublemakers to go away than to have a prolonged vendetta action .
The crux-point :
Carlo Buonaparte wanted to go with Paoli to England . He had studied (and dropped out) of universities in Italy , and liked the city life .
Something changed his mind . The results of his staying is well known . We will now examine what would have happened if he and his family had gone to England .
Letizia would have gone with him , regardless that she was 6 months pregnant . Napoleon would have been born an English citizen , not French .
He would never have been offered an active officer’s commission because of his dubious political background .
He would almost certainly have ended up in India in the British East India Company . This is where young men at the time went to make their fortunes .
( Letizia said to Napoleon , urging him to forget Corsica (which he had nearly wrested into independence when he was twentythree) :
“Now France is ablaze – it is a noble bonfire , my son , and worth the risk of being burnt.” )
Napoleon and Wellington would have been colleagues , being the same age and united against the old fogeys of corruption and incompetence .
What a combination !
They would have set the east ablaze !
After conquering India and all desirable neighbouring parts , Napoleon’s ambitions would have pushed him to at least vice-royalty , then Emperor of India .
It is doubtful whether Wellington would have followed him in this . His Anglo-Irish roots were too deep .
But there would have been very little that England could have done about it . England already had the experience of losing valued colonies in North America . As long as Napoleon just kept Europe stirred up (divide and conquer) and kept his main energies confined to the East , they would let him be .
Would he have invaded China (a la Grande armee 1812) ?
Probably . But the outcome would have been different . China has no killer winters and areas can be held piecemeal .
In Europe nationalism would not have taken such deep root . The Germanies would not unify . Social unease would be intense because of stratification . But overthrowing the state by armed revolution in this world would not be possible . France would be deeply divided , something like Germany after 1945 in our timeline .
There would be large-scale emigration from France to the US . The US civil war would probably not happen . I have no hard proof of this , just the feeling millions of starving French peasants (ie those that would have been killed in the wars of our timeline) flooding into Louisiana , Quebec and the American south would have changed their perceptions of the problems facing them .
The powerblocs would be Britain , Russia , Napoleonic East and US .
The industrialization of China and Japan would occur much earlier than in our timeline . The presence of the Napoleonic powerbloc (ie not western ) would force a ally-development , instead of exploitation .
Especially , if , as is likely , Napoleon appreciated the importance of mass-produced spectacles . It is the sort of thing that he would notice . The importance of this point cannot be overstressed . No eastern state or political system has survived the introduction of glasses for all . Literacy means little if you cannot make out the ideograms after age 35 . Fine machining likewise .
Essentially , a technological civilization is impossible for humans unless they have glasses . So there .
Would a WWI be possible in this timeline?
In our timeline , French capital fueling Russian industrialization circa 1890-1914 threatened Germany and Britain . Especially sensitive were certain very high-return British investments by politicians in China (ie Opium) being threatened by cheaper capital from Russia . There was also great concern in the upper classes about over-population . The British (Lord Grey) formulated the expansion of the old “divide and conquer” strategy whereby Germany would be forced into war . A lukewarm support of France (like the initial retreat of British Expeditionary Forces in 1914 ) allowed the European adversaries to bleed themselves to death . Kitcheners volunteer army was not foreseen . They torpedoed him after Somme . It worked , but t’was a Pyrrhic victory .
In the other timeline , French capital would have been replaced by British capital in Russia . The US capital growth ( by now heavily Franco-German) would have suffered accordingly .
The special understandings would be Anglo-Russian , US-French . Napoleonic East would play them off against each other .
A meat-grinder war like WWI would be impossible , since both Anglo-
Russian and US-French eastern flanks would be vulnerable to Napoleonic East .(The Ottoman Empire would long been subsumed) . The Austro-Hungarian Empire would (as usual) been the hotbed of espionage , goings-on and other humans having a glorious time .
Criteria for estimating crux-points in alternate histories.
See history as a relief terrain map with length and breadth and height .
The height is the probability of an event . The length and breadth dimensions of the map is necessary to describe the possibilities .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com why three dimensions like this are necessary and sufficient to describe any number of dimensions which do not have singularities (and even some that do!)
A good approximation is that the individual is part of the weave of the map , but this is difficult for persons with identifiable viewpoints to understand .
A second approximation is to see the individual as a point (ping-pong ball if you will) moving over the landscape and interacting with it .
Take Napoleon .
The criteria for success here is for a very energetic ball hopping all over the place . If it lands anywhere , it rolls uphill .
This translates in human terms to be certain of yourself , and tell everybody you meet that . Meet a lot of people (be energetic) . Some are certain to be impressed . Peter’s principle means that many people in hierarchical positions are incompetent and uncertain what to do . This is especially true in periods of rapid change (like revolutions , etc) .
Some seeds will fail , others bear fruit .
Individuals who can do this well and consistently , have high ridges on the probability landscape .
A 20-20 hind vision here helps . A pathway that enables Napoleon to get to India with some legitimacy , is high ridge . Napoleon thrived on chaos. Hence I judged the probabilities as a high-ridge fork .